Attention Mobile Developers: Habitica is Hiring!

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Illustration by JessicaChase

Want to join the Habitica team? We’re looking to hire a new mobile contractor!

We’re particularly interested in people who have a good understanding of either Android development or iOS development (including knowledge of ObjC and Swift). Bonus points if you also have experience with: Core Data, Reactive Programming (ReactiveCocoa/RxJava), Realm, and Kotlin, as well as familiarity with iOS and/or Android UI design principles, patterns, and best practices. Our ideal dev would be eager to push the limits of what our apps can currently do, with an eye for details, a drive to make their work both technically and visually sound, and an interest in expanding their knowledge of current advancements in the field. Diverse candidates are encouraged to apply!

To apply, send an email to vicky@habitica.com with a CV that includes your experience with the  items listed above, your Habitica username, and your favorite nerdy pursuit. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Spaces for the Creative: Guilds for Arts and Crafts!

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Illustration by WreckedByJesusDiaz

Many Habiticans excel in creative and artistic pursuits, so it’s no surprise that we have a large number of Guilds organized by and for creators, makers, and artists! In this month’s Spotlight we’re focusing just a few of Habitica’s Guilds that are related to Arts- and-Crafts.

Knitting and Crocheting:  https://habitica.com/#/options/groups/guilds/4d106168-f8bd-4235-92ee-e3490fcd2634

Are you a yarn-craft enthusiast? If so, Knitting and Crocheting is a great place to meet fellow Habiticans that share your passion! Discuss your projects in the chat and check out a wide variety of Challenges to help you start and finish all the projects on your list! (Bonus: this Guild is run by our very own Lemoness!)

Artists Guild:  https://habitica.com/#/options/groups/guilds/dea7a124-9e69-4163-a708-d3e961a96159

This Guild is a great place to discuss your work in visual art in any medium. The Artists Guild has a great list of Challenges that will help give you an extra boost of motivation on your projects. Share your work in the Guild chat and discuss your favorite tips and tricks for media, techniques, or for getting yourself motivated!

Crafty Nerds: https://habitica.com/#/options/groups/guilds/20eebbde-ecf0-47db-a3bd-443e2d321ac0

If you are a crafter, maker, or artist of any kind, but also want to geek out, this is the Guild for you! Join other fantastically creative folks who proudly call themselves “nerds” here. Discuss projects, the work of artists and creators you admire, and get helps and tips in the chat. This Guild also has a great Challenge focused on helping you finish a U.F.O.(un-finished object)!
These Guilds and many others are here to help you manage your creative projects! And if you’re looking for more advice on using Habitica to help you with arts and crafts, be sure to read this month’s Use Case Spotlight, featuring tips and tricks from fellow Habiticans!

Establishing a Meditation Habit in 60 Seconds per Day (or Less!)

Hello friends! It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and while behind-the-scenes posts usually cover some aspect of how HabitRPG, Inc. runs as a company, I’ve had several conversations with both friends and business contacts about how I established my meditation practice. It’s been a stressful year in a lot of ways, and meditation plays a critical role in making sure I don’t run out screaming into the night, never to return. This post is for those of you who’ve added a “Meditation” daily to your Habitica tasks, but haven’t quite managed to make it stick. Without further ado….

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Why meditate? An introduction:

Before getting deep into the “how,” let’s begin with the “why.” There’s plenty out there about the benefits of meditation and why you should start. Wikipedia has an overview, the Buffer blog has an excellent post breaking down some of the physiological effects of a meditation practice, and finally, Chade Meng Tan’s book, Search Inside Yourself, covers a lot of the science and applications of a mindfulness based stress reduction practice, particularly in the workplace.

Some benefits that I’ve experienced personally since establishing a regular meditation practice:

  • I can offset the effects of sleep deprivation if I take time to meditate, i.e. if I should have gotten 90 minutes more sleep, taking 20 minutes or so to observe my breathing helps balance out some of the crankiness and the tendency to overreact to things.
  • It’s easier for me to recognize when my brain is basically a barrel of monkeys and take action to mitigate it or redirect my attention towards high-energy, low-cognitive load tasks.
  • I’m better at engaging with people and being patient with them even as my first reaction is a negative one, like irritation, or annoyance. (Not perfect, but improved.)

For the remainder of this post I’ll be operating under the assumption that you know meditation is a thing, and you want to do that thing! Only you haven’t quite yet cracked the “how” of it and the daily is starting to go dark red.

The “How” of Meditating:

There are plenty of different types of meditation. Here, I focus on mindfulness meditation. (Technically, “mindfulness based stress reduction” pioneered for the secular corporate world by people like Jon Kabat-Zinn. Whatever title works for you!)

Basic Technique: Make yourself comfortable, whether standing, seated, or lying down. Focus on your breath. You know how to breathe! Keep breathing. That’s all: one breath in, one breath out.

Too simple to be true? Yes, in a way–when it comes down to it, a breath isn’t necessarily a straightforward thing.

  • It has stages: when you inhale, when you hit the top of your inhale for a split second before pushing all the air out of your lungs, when you exhale, when you hit bottom of the breath but aren’t ready to inhale yet.
  • It has qualities: the temperature of the ambient air. The speed at which you’re breathing. Whether you’re inhaling through both nostrils equally, or one side more than the other (hooray, allergies). If your breath hits the back of your throat, or hovers somewhere above the roof of your mouth.
  • It has physiological effects: If you’re breathing too fast, you get lightheaded (and maybe should slow down a bit). Your chest may raise and lower, or your belly.

While you’re in a meditation session, you want to pay attention to your breath. I think of meditation as “dedicated time to get better at feeling myself breathe” and spend my session trying to pay attention to the above sensations.

 

One breath in, one breath out.

 

Repeat as necessary.

 

Next level:

I’m going to assume you managed the aforementioned just fine. If that’s all you need, you can stop reading here and count it as a session! For others, that’s not enough–you don’t feel like you’re meditating yet. Keep reading.

One full breath-cycle of an inhale/exhale takes me about 10 seconds. It might take you longer, or you may breathe faster and require less time. In any case, you can manage a focused meditation session of one breath-cycle now, so your next stage is 3 cycles of breathing and breathing out. Doable, yes?

Now you’re ready for a minute-long meditation session. This is usually where people start feeling a bit daunted, especially if they’ve been trying and failing to build a sustained meditation practice. But if you think about it, a minute breaks down into roughly 5 or 6 cycles. My suggestion, when you’re at this level, is to use a timer–I like Calm, which is beautiful and has timers available in a web browser at : https://www.calm.com/meditate/program/Htq1PUleuW or in their apps for iOS and Android. But you can really use any timer of your choice. I personally gravitate towards soft bells to announce the end of a session, but there are plenty of other options.

Remember, the technique is: one breath in, one breath out.

Then repeat 4-8 times, however many breath-cycles it takes for the 1 minute timer to ring.

If you’re human (I hope you’re human! I’m pretty sure I’m not qualified to talk about how meditation works for non-humans) your brain is going to be bouncing all over the place like kittens being lined up for a photograph.

Don’t worry; that’s normal. Just notice it–and by “notice it” basically do the mental equivalent of nodding at someone in the hall like “oh hey, I see you” and continue on to your business. In this case, your business is BREATHING LIKE A CHAMP. (Seriously. Not dead? YOU WIN AT BREATHING.)

When the timer goes off, that’s it! Congratulations, you’ve completed a 1 minute meditation session. That’s really all you need to build the habit–a spare sixty seconds per day to ride your breath.

Moving beyond the 1 minute meditation session

At this point, you’re either nicely settled into the 1 minute meditations and feeling like you could take on more time because the sessions are too short, or you find yourself wondering when the timer will go off. There are a couple of different choices you could make here, all of which are equally valid:

  1. If you feel ready for more time, increment the session length. Calm’s timer intervals go 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 minutes (…etc. Calm also does an 8 hour timed meditation that I suspect is more for sleep than for actual meditation). Consider this the “check-in” method. Doesn’t matter if you managed to have a focused session or you find yourself ten million miles away when the bell chimes. I have seen comments like “It’s called meditation _practice_, not meditation perfect” which is kind of a dad joke but also true.
  2. If you keep thinking “are we done yet?” try replacing the timer with a stopwatch. That is, instead of having something count down from an arbitrary period of time, have it count up–and give yourself permission to finish your session when you feel done. This was a trick I used to get myself to sit for my first sessions that were longer than 10 minutes. It is also useful because it lets you get a feel for what the best sessions could be like, when you get into the flow of returning to the breath and aren’t worrying about when the timer will go off.
  3. Try the stopwatch, but with intermediary chimes. Calm has an “open ended meditation” feature that lets you choose intervals for a bell to chime. The intervals are useful reminders to check in on where you are–are you watching your breath? (In my case, hardly ever–and the chimes are a cue for me to get back on track.) However, Calm’s intervals are set at 2 minute lengths. If 2 minutes is too long, Spotify (free!) has an album that does 10 minute sessions in shorter intervals:

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Troubleshooting your meditation session:

Posture: Classical meditation has the practitioner sitting cross-legged, often on a pillow. If you can do that, great! If you can’t, great! You can also meditate while sitting in a normal chair, which helps decrease the likelihood that you’ll finish your meditation session and realize that your feet have fallen asleep. If you have terrible posture and sitting for meditation causes you stress, try lying down and doing your session that way! (I usually assume the corpse pose from yoga: feet relaxed apart from each other, hands a little ways out from the body with palms facing skyward, chin relaxed but lifted for easy breathing.)

Falling Asleep: Sometimes you might drift off while sitting quietly. If it’s chronic sleep deprivation, consider whether or not your time might be better spent sleeping rather than meditating. If you choose to tackle meditation, ramp up your sitting times slowly, or rely on the frequency bells as an outside reminder to bring your attention back to your breath.

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It happens to the best of us. Fanart by Promsien (deviantArt)

All the monkeys in the brain: normal. Carry on as before: note that there are monkeys, then refocus on the breath.

A word on habit-building:

These days I meditate much the same way I drink water: usually at the beginning and end of the day, plus when I feel like I need to. To incorporate a regular meditation session into your routine, it’s easiest to schedule it before or after something you already do regularly–after sitting up in bed, before you log on to your computer, or after a meal. Don’t forget to reward yourself afterwards! Perhaps by checking off your “Meditation” Daily in Habitica?

What are your strategies for making meditation work for you? We’d love to hear them!

Sample To-Dos

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Illustration by Willow the Witty

It’s Wiki Wednesday! Once a month we highlight a helpful post from the Wiki with tips about productivity, wellness, and optimizing your use of Habitica!

In last month’s edition of Wiki Wednesday we looked at some Sample Dailies to help you decide what to put in this important column! Now that you’ve set up your Habits and Dailies, you might be thinking about what kinds of tasks are good candidates for your To-Do column. The Wiki Scribes have helpful information and examples to inspire you as you add To-Do’s to your list!

Players may find it useful to add one-time tasks to their To-Dos. Like a normal To-Do list, items added here are meant to be taken care of, marked off, and forgotten about. To-Dos can be used as a quick way to make notes about tasks that need to be taken care of when on the go, or make sure that certain steps in a project are done.

Want to know more? Head over to the wiki to check out the full article!

Use Case Spotlight: Arts and Crafts

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Illustration by WreckedByJesusDiaz

In last month’s Use Case Spotlight we learned all about different ways that folks in the community make time for Relaxing Hobbies. This month, we’re further exploring how Habiticans make time specifically for creative hobbies! Here are some great tips, tricks, and ideas for using Habitica to set (and maintain!) new tasks and goals related to Arts and Crafts. These come from your fellow players in the Use Case Spotlights Guild!

kaoru coati starts us off with a great way to remember great project ideas as you come up with them:

Whenever I get an idea for something to make I make a To-Do for it right away, including a checklist with whatever sub-steps that come to mind at the time. That way ideas don’t escape me, plus having the To-Dos there reminds me to make time for crafting (they are all grouped under a tag of course). I can always delete or edit a To-Do if I change my mind about a project.

NR Nazario uses To-Dos and Habits to create comics!

My entry into ART & CRAFTS is making Comics. I have use two methods in Habitica to do so. On the first method, I divide the seven discrete tasks of my process (Script – Sketch – Pencil – Ink – Color – Letter – Publish) into seven separate to-do items. This method emphasized PROCESS and the progress towards getting a published comic episode (which is what I called each page) The second method, emphasized the achievement of the final result rather than working towards it, was to have a large task named after the episode number (101, for example) and then a checklist containing the 7 subtasks inside. Outside of those options, I have a + habit for working on the comic for 1 pomodoro which can be checked for each pomodoro you work and a daily set to work on the comic for at least the first pomodoro.

 

Memry, the silver pirate uses Challenges to tie subscriber gems to projects as an extra incentive!!

I create challenges. I created a private guild, and there I create challenges for every major (and minor) project. [For] making Christmas ornaments I create a challenge that includes every step from selecting what type of ornament I want to make to the moment I distribute them to the family. I am a subscriber, so I tie all my gems up in my challenges. I can’t spend them until I earn them – by finishing things! Double bonus!

Mikachu posted an excellent discussion of their art process and how it’s managed through Tasks. An excerpt is given here, but if you’d like to read the full post, head over to the Use Case Spotlights Guild and find it in the chat!

As a self-employed artist, using Habitica to track my art tasks is essential to my daily productivity and ultimately the success of my career. …[One] To-Do I’m actively pursuing is actually a set of twelve, one for each month, and is not only a part of my career pursuits, it’s my 2017 New Year’s Goal. My goal is to create a new, complete, and properly-done illustration every month. To help me accomplish this, I created a To-Do for each month simply titled “[Month] Illustration” and gave them due dates that correspond to the last day of the named month. To keep myself from spending too much time in this planning stage (as opposed to creating the works) I have only created lists for the To-Dos as each month has arrived.

There were so many helpful and exciting tips we couldn’t feature them all here! You can see them all and join in the discussion in the Use Case Spotlights Guild– one of your ideas could be featured next month! Look for an announcement of next month’s theme from Bailey soon.
Also, if you missed it you may want to take a look at our most recent Guild Spotlight, which showcases groups dedicated to Relaxing Hobbies- some of the featured groups offer discussions and Challenges you may find helpful as you work on finding time for fun and relaxing activities in your life.